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Summertime is Perfect To Work on Holiday Card Lists

14 Jul

july-xmas-cardsSummertime is a wonderfully quiet and relaxing time of year for many people.  If you are looking for a little project to work on, consider updating your holiday mailing list.  No matter whether you computerize your mailing list or keep it as a hand-written list, reviewing it for accuracy is a great idea.

Throughout the year, when I get moving card announcements, wedding invitations and birth announcements from family and friends, I keep them in a folder along with my mailing list.  Usually once a year I update all the information.  I happen to keep my holiday card list on a spreadsheet on my computer which makes it easy to update. As the children of my friends marry I also add them to my list with their new information and as babies are born they are listed as well.  My list continues to grow and I love it!

Summertime weekends make a great time to go through my phone book and all those cards and announcements and I update my spreadsheet so I can be sure my holiday card envelopes will be as accurate as possible.

I love to order personalized holiday cards, sometimes with a family photo and sometimes just with a pretty design.  During some quieter weekends, I’ve been able to get my children together and we’ll get a family picture taken and many summertime backgrounds make for a fabulous holiday card photo.  The inside of my cards usually has a printed sentiment that I either create or select and it’s followed by our family names.  You can also opt to write a little message even if the cards are printed, if you want an extra personal touch, even if it’s something as simple as “wishing you holiday joys” and a signature.

A great time to order your holiday cards is in fall, as early as September or October, to give you ample time to have the order printed and arrive at your home, and then allow you plenty of time to address them.  Aiming to mail your holiday cards just before Thanksgiving is perfect timing and is a really nice way to kick off the holiday season.  If you get a later start, no need to panic.  It’s never too late to mail a holiday card.  I have even, on some years, chosen to mail a Happy New Year card featuring my family holiday trip photos.  But by then, certainly, my mailing list is updated and ready to go.

july-xmas-cards-001Once your cards and stuffed into envelopes and sealed, It’s time for the addressing.  I highly recommend hand writing your envelopes, even if you don’t have the best handwriting.  It really looks nicer than anything computerized and adds a great  personal touch.   By all means, try to stay far away from computer labels!

Find a nice pen that is comfortable and provides a nice smooth imprint.  Some enjoy using a metallic pen, especially when the envelopes are darker in color, such as cranberry or red or navy or evergreen.  A fine tip Sharpee is usually my go-to pen as it is easy to use and makes it easy for me to create nice lettering.

When you address your envelopes, you can either use the formal “Mr. and Mrs. David Carter” or  if you prefer to be more casual, you can write “Caroline and David Carter” followed by the address.  Of course, if there are children, either state “and family” after the parent’s names or list the children’s names names on the second line. Generally spell all the words out on the address, rather than abbreviating.

Finally, bring a finished holiday card to the post office so it can be weighed and measured and they can quote you the proper postage.  Sometimes cards will require extra postage if they are in square envelopes or if they exceed certain weights.   Your post office also usually offers holiday-themed first class stamps as you get closer to November and they are very nice to use on the envelopes.

So, by all means enjoy the summer.  Eat ice cream.  Get some sun and go for plenty of walks.  But, reserve a little time to work on that mailing list and you will make your Fall season a little easier!

Best wishes,


Wood-ology 101 on Cutting Board Wood Shades

30 Mar

march-woodBoardsWooden maple cutting boards made with premium quality hard maple wood makes a great portable cutting work surface or an elegant serving tray.  They also make a beautiful gift for holidays or anniversaries or housewarming!  Here is a little “wood-ology” about the variety in wood color, according to one of our leading Maple Leaf experts.

There are two types of maple wood that are harvested – summer maples and winter maples – when you see a hard maple that has more color that means the wood has been harvested in the summer because the sap in the maple is still in the tree, on a macro level, at the time it was cut.  When you see a board that is more toward the cream or white shades, that tree has been typically harvested during the winter and the sap has been harvested from the tree in all likelihood.

The boards are a natural product and it will vary.  The maple does patina over time and become more honey, especially when treated with butcher block oil.  A wooden cutting board is one of our favorite gift ideas, it’s something special they likely would not buy for themselves!

Check out our expanded article about this topic, Wood-ology 101, in Studio Insights.

Best wishes,


Holiday Peppermint Bark (Recipe!)

8 Dec

We were recently asked if we’d like to be a part of a homemade holiday gifts segment for WGN-TV.  Carol Mackey showed viewers her homemade peppermint bark in our personalized gift boxes … the perfect gift for friends and family!


Carol was nice enough to share her recipe so we could share it with you.  Just in time for the holidays …

Peppermint Bark

1 lb chopped bittersweet chocolate
peppermint extract
1 lb chopped white chocolate
crushed peppermint

Line a 11×17 baking sheet with parchment paper or waxed paper. Melt bittersweet chocolate over a double boiler, stirring constantly. Stir in four drops peppermint oil or more to taste. Spread chocolate evenly onto the prepared cookie sheet. Chill until just set, about ½ hour. Melt white chocolate over double boiler, stirring constantly, if white chocolate seizes add a little canola oil. Quickly spread white chocolate mixture over chilled dark chocolate, spreading to the edge of the pan, sprinkle with peppermint. Chill until set. To cut, I trim the edges with a chef’s knife and then cut into squares and cut the squares into triangles.


I love how Carol tied off the boxes with red and white twine.  So festive and ready to gift!  Her homemade peppermint bark would make a great gift for teachers, friends, neighbors … anyone, really!  Of course, you can fill our boxes with any of your homemade goodies for the holidays.  I’ve even used them to give holiday treats for dogs (I love to bake homemade dog biscuits).

If you give homemade holiday treats, how do you gift them?  Share your creative ideas (and recipes!) with me in the comments below.



Photo courtesy of Carol Mackey.

To learn more about Carol Mackey and her recipes & classes, please visit her site at